Procrastinating on finishing your dissertation’s conclusion? If so, you have company. Writing the conclusion can be a time when many people clutch.
One reason why many dissertation writers start to slow down when they’re at this point is that they aren’t getting feedback from their advisor or mentor. If you don’t have a sense that you’re basically on the right track, stopping dead in your tracks may seem the prudent thing to do.
It’s easy to use lack of feedback as an excuse for not returning to your dissertation. And if added responsibilities that many academics and writers have to assume in September are triggering a case of the nerves, letting the diss slip may seem the only way out.
But hold on — don’t be too quick to shelve your dissertation, even for a few days. If you’re procrastinating on writing the conclusion, there may be a bigger truth that you need to face up to.
Facing up to a Bigger Truth
Writing a dissertation always involves risks of one kind or another, but what can rattle some writers during the conclusion is a greater sense of audience. Many writers say that the conclusion is dangerous territory.
Are your advisor and committee members researching and publishing in the very same area as you? If so, that usually is a plus, but when you’re writing the conclusion, it can make things a bit sticky.
Finger-pointing at Current Researchers
Some writers are at an impasse because they want to point out that past (or current) researchers have stopped short or have missed opportunities to advance the field. Is there a diplomatic way to say that?
To address past research and to finish the conclusion to your dissertation, consider these suggestions, some of which came from ABD’s and their advisors:
1. State very clearly what you set out to do, how you accomplished that goal, and why your accomplishment is important.
2. Be sure that you carefully outline the issue before you launch any kind of critique.
3. Pinpoint where the thinking and thought leaders are going to move next and why.
4. Don’t be dismissive.
5. Be critical, but be gracious.
6. Give credit where it’s due.
The dissertation, no matter how polished, is a draft for whatever comes next for you. Later when you write your book and articles, you will have additional opportunities to critique current research and critical thought in your field.
It is always wise to tread carefully and thoughtfully if you sense a minefield.
I’d love to hear your tips for pushing through to the end. Please drop me an email.
For now, here’s to ending procrastination and ending the dissertation—
P.S. Have you been putting off finishing your dissertation? Or maybe you’re procrastinating on starting the dissertation? All procrastinators—please make a note: The next issue of my newsletter, Smart Tips for Writers, will feature “How to Become a Recovering Procrastinator.” Don’t delay. Go to www.nancywhichard.com to sign up.